Where We Are
A fantastic second half performance against Peterborough United saw Coventry emerge 4-2 victors over the pre-season promotion favourites after twice falling behind. The team emerged with energy and a desire to pressurise the opposition defence after a first half which the away team dominated. This has given the team a feeling of momentum and energy that has been lacking since the win over MK Dons so it will be interesting to whether they can carry this over against Oldham tomorrow.
There is no new team news except that Jordan Clarke remains injured meaning that Webster and Seaborne can continue their defensive partnership that looked resolute during the Peterborough match. This is unfortunate for Jordan Clarke whose continued inclusion had come under scrutiny for fans looking for an explanation for the team’s porousness in defence, something Clarke can only partially be blamed for. The goals we conceded against Peterborough did not really come from mistakes from central defenders, with Fleck dallying on the ball in the 6 yard box costing the first and the second resulting from first Moussa giving the ball to Peterborough’s most dangerous player and then Cyrus Christie failing to make a challenge on Tomlin. Seeing both centre-backs comfortably make clearing headers furthers the case against Jordan Clarke returning anytime soon into the centre of defence and with Seaborne likely to extend his loan it seems Clarke may only return to the side in his original right-back role.
The other selection issue lingers over that of Carl Baker. Although Baker’s performance on Boxing Day was not too far below his usual standard and he probably just about made a positive difference to the game, he produced one of the most shocking misses I have seen at a Coventry game since Freddie Sears’s miss against Ipswich a few years ago. Baker’s reaction to seeing his powder-puff effort tipped away by the Peterborough goalkeeper subsequently was one of genuine frustration as he kicked the post and subsequently tried too hard to make amends. His substitution for Chris Dagnall, who operated on the right, then saw the side score twice to ultimately win the game and it provides food for thought for Pressley on whether to persist with our frustrating captain in the starting XI tomorrow.
The Last Time We Met
The last time we played Oldham we beat them 2-1 in a one-sided encounter at the Ricoh Arena. After opening the scoring Coventry set about trying to seal the 3 points but found themselves the victim of the counter-attacking sucker punch as Matt Smith levelled for Paul Dickov’s Oldham side. However a late goal from James Bailey eventually sealed 3 points for Mark Robins’s Coventry City and helped maintain our play-off push.
More symbolically the meeting before that provided Coventry their first win of the season when they travelled to Boundary Park at the end of September last year. A weak effort from Cody McDonald which eventually dribbled over the line was enough to give us and Mark Robins their first win of the 2012/13 season.
How Are They Doing?
After shocking Liverpool to advance in the FA Cup 4th Round last season Oldham sacked the man who oversaw that victory in Paul Dickov. However the sacking could hardly be described as harsh with the Latics performing listlessly in the league and were in danger of dropping out of the third tier. They then made a surprise choice in appointing rookie manager Lee ‘Son of Gary’ Johnson as Dickov’s replacement. Johnson eventually secured survival with a game to go last season and set up about replacing key players from last season, such as Matt Smith, Jose Baxter, Lee Croft and Dean Furman, with younger and cheaper recruits.
As ever Oldham have been unspectacular in League One this season but have been winning plaudits for playing good football and have been unlucky on numerous occasions in dropping points. One of the stars that have emerged at Oldham has been centre-back James Tarkowski who has spent this season finally living up to the potential that’s been talked about him in previous years. Tarkowski is a strong centre-back but one who’s comfortable with the ball at his feet, making him vital for Lee Johnson’s style of play.
Their top scorer this season has been their main summer signing Adam Rooney who joined after a contract dispute with Swindon. Big things were expected of Rooney in this Oldham side this season but he thus far has had a disappointing return of 6 goals this season but he’s a physical striker who can still be deadly on his day. In lieu of Rooney’s goals this season, Oldham have utilised their squad players for goals with players such as Charlie MacDonald with 4 so far this season. More pertinently with Shaun Jeffers surprising many Coventry fans by scoring against us for Peterborough, two former Sky Blues are amongst the goals for Oldham this season with Danny Philliskirk and Jonson Clarke-Harris both on 4 and may want to prove a point to their former team-mates in the same manner as Jeffers.
The Peterborough result has created a feeling that the team can go on another strong run of results again after a listless December. This game is important in maintaining momentum and sending us back towards the play-off positions. Oldham have the potential to be tough opposition and this won’t be a straightforward match. If we can put in the performance of the second-half against Peterborough over a full 90 minutes tomorrow then this should be a simple win. With the games coming so soon after another the worry is that the energy levels required to maintain that kind of performance won’t be there tomorrow so I think it will be important to start strongly and kill this game off as early as we can should we have the opportunity.
My prediction is that Coventry will win 2-0.